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An apple a day, keeps the EU away


Some people say that promises are made to be broken. It's how things work in real life. And maybe we are taught that from early childhood when our parents used to promise us whatever we wanted just to drag us out of the supermarket without screaming and making a scene, saying "I promise that you'll get that toy you want, you behave”.

Sometimes it was true, but other times it was not. Of course, we tend to remember the times promises were broken and as we grow older we notice that we can promise things we aren't going to achieve, just to gain or avoid something or someone, without thinking of future consequences.

The best examples of broken promises come from politicians. We see it time and time again before every election. We are promised the moon, but end up with choking moon dust scratching our throats as we take in the redundant sack of lies. Are we that gullible? Indeed, we say that hope is the last to die, but when is it time to say "we had enough"

This year the motto of the EP elections is "This time is different". But is it? To Romania and Bulgaria, who joined the EU in 2007, many things were promised, and yet, they are treated as second-rate members. Discrimination and xenophobia are blooming thanks to the economic crisis, and extremist or populist parties reap the fruits. After being rejected to join the Schengen area despite complying with all the requirements, Romanians and Bulgarians were on the verge of being denied the right to work freely in some EU countries. Only on the 1st of January 2014, working restrictions in Austria, Belgium, Britain, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands and Spain were lifted. Instead of celebrating New Year's Eve, teams of journalists were waiting at the airports in the UK and Germany to see them flooded with Romanian and Bulgarian immigrants. They assumed that no sooner did the clock strike 12, immigrants would rush in to set up camps in cities and start living off their social benefits. Unfortunately, hardly anyone arrived. And the following day the front pages of their newspapers covered such unimportant news that they might as well have left them blank. The Romanians and Bulgarians who wanted to immigrate had most likely already made the move.

What some euro sceptic politicians forget is that not all those who move to work in, for example, the UK, end up begging on the street or committing crimes. To the contrary, most people end up doing those jobs nationals are reluctant on doing, pay taxes and actually help boost the economy. The whole circus sparking hatred towards immigrants is simply an electoral strategy to shift the public's attention away from the real issues at hand. Everyone needs a scapegoat.. But let's not forget the many Romanian and Bulgarian students who are studying in the UK and who are paying study taxes. Let's not forget that just as many brilliant people have left Romania and Bulgaria to work in the UK after being recruited by foreign companies, resulting in a brain drain in their home countries.

Recently two Swedish politicians, Lotta Edholm and MEP candidate Erik Scheller, publicly stated that Romania should foot the bill for the beggars from Stockholm. Elmar Brok, German MEP and Chair of the European Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs, recently proposed that Romanians and Bulgarians should be fingerprinted so that they can't cheat their way into getting social benefits. Although these ideas are not without criticism, the fact alone that someone came up with them is frightening.

So what does the EU have in store for Romania and Bulgaria? We are all waiting for better days to come, days in which promises are actually kept. But as long as discrimination is so present inside the Union, how can we even start to promote ideals and principles of tolerance, non-discrimination and peace? The EU appears to be an rotten apple – appetizing on the outside, full of worms on the inside.


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